Lung cancer survival rates drop

Lung and pancreatic cancer survival rates in England and Wales have fallen over the past 30 years, UK analysis has shown.

Cancer Research UK published data this week showing that for all cancers in the UK, 10-year survival is now at 46.2 per cent, compared with 23.6 per in 1971. 

But analysis of National Cancer Registry data revealed no survival improvement for lung and pancreatic cancer.

In 1971/2, lung cancer had a 10-year survival rate of 5.1 per cent, but in 2000/1 this figure is estimated to be 4.7 per cent. Similarly, 10-year survival for pancreatic cancer patients has fallen from 2.3 per cent in 1971/2,to 2.1 per cent in 2001.

In contrast, survival rates for breast cancer have improved  significantly from 40.7 per cent in 1971/2 to 71.5 per cent in 2000/1.

Men diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000/1 had a 95 per cent 10-year survival, compared with 65.1 per cent in 1971/2.

Lead researcher Professor Michel Coleman, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said GPs were not to blame for malignancies being missed because they rarely have new cancer diagnoses.

The findings follow an announcement by DoH cancer czar Professor Mike Richards that a new Cancer Reform Strategy is to be developed. Reorganisation, greater public awareness of symptoms, increased radiotherapy capacity and more end-of-life care are needed, he said.

Ten-year cancer survival rates
 1971/2 2000/1 

Pancreas 

 2.3% 2.1%
Lung  5.1% 4.7%
Breast  40.7% 71.5%
Testis  65.1% 95.0%
Colon  25.3% 43.8%
Cervix  45.3% 66.1%
Source: Cancer Research UK

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